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DRIVING

French drivers getting worse, says new report

The reputation of French drivers is hardly positive among foreigners and a report published on Thursday suggests it’s unlikely to improve anytime soon, with drivers reportedly less and less respectful of the rules of the road.

French drivers getting worse, says new report
Photo: Shutterstock

Whether it's talking on the telephone, drink driving, skipping red lights or speeding, the French are ignoring the rules of the road in greater numbers.

An annual study published by the Axa Prevention insurance company concluded that drivers in France are getting worse.

The study was based on interviews with hundreds of drivers across the country about their behaviour on the road with the insurance company concluding that there was a general deterioration in their respect for the rules.

“Even though there are more speed cameras and as many safe-driving campaigns that are well publicized, we can see a real deterioration,” said Eric Lemaire, head of Axa Prevention.

His company’s report shows that more drivers admit to using their mobile phones behind the wheel, including for texting as well as for using the phone’s GPS.

Perhaps the most worrying statistic is the rise in the number of motorists who admit to getting behind the wheel after having a drink.

READ ALSO: How French motorists drive expats crazy

Even if a large majority of people realize that driving after two drinks is dangerous, 28 percent of respondents admitted to doing it, a slight rise on the 26 percent last year.

Drivers in France are also more likely to stay behind the wheel for long periods of time – up to four or five hours – without taking a break.

Other stats in the report showed that drivers were more likely to go through red lights and break the speed limit.

Although surprisingly for anyone having lived in Paris fewer drivers are resorting to the use of their horn.

For Axa’s Eric Lemaire, the deterioration in driving behaviour is hard to explain, but perhaps can be put down to a certain French attitude towards crack downs by authorities, which “end up bearing less fruit”.

He also blames a lot of the problems on mobile phones, which is resulting in drivers taking less caution.

“Sending texts and using a GPS both contribute to drivers paying less attention on the roads,” he said.

The Local's readers, many of whom know all about the hazards of driving in France, reacted to the report on Twitter on Thursday.

 

 

 

Axa’s survey comes at a time when the number of deaths on France’s roads has shown a worrying rise.

A total of 3,103 people died by the end of November 2015, 148 more than at the same period in 2013.

In all road deaths in 2014 rose by around five percent compared to the previous year.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

Reader question: Can I buy or sell a car in France if I have a foreign driving licence?

You can drive in France for a certain amount of time with some foreign driving licences. But can you buy or sell a car with one and what other documents do you need?

Reader question: Can I buy or sell a car in France if I have a foreign driving licence?

Let’s start with the good news: a driving licence is not among the list of official documents needed to buy or sell a car in France – just to drive one.

But it’s likely that are asked to provide one when you buy a car.

In that case does what happens if you have a foreign rather than French licence?

We know by reading certain Facebook posts that this question often arises and some people have reported that they were wrongly asked for their French driving licence when buying a car and told that a UK licence, for example, wasn’t acceptable. 

Not having a French driver’s licence should not stop you from being able to buy a car in France.

Kim Cranstoun who runs the Facebook group ‘Applying for a French Driving Licence’ told The Local: “It’s a dealer issue, they have it fixed in their mind that you have to have a French licence mainly because they don’t understand the new agreement and the last thing they read was a UK licence was only valid until the end of 2021.

“As long as you have a valid UK licence you can purchase a car in France. Anyone going into a dealer with a valid UK licence should carry a copy of the agreement,” she said.

Interestingly a driving licence is not on the list of official documents you need to buy a car (see below) but dealer’s will often ask for it if they take charge of registering the car.

What does the seller need?

The seller is responsible for providing the car registration document, called the certificat d’immatriculation and known informally as the Carte Grise.

You must sign a certificat de cession (transfer certificate) along with the buyer, and then declare the sale on the ANTS website within 15 days. 

You should then receive a code de cession (transfer code) which you must also send to the buyer so they can register the vehicle in their name.

If the vehicle is second-hand and more than four-years old, the seller should also provide a recent roadworthiness certificate, proving that the vehicle has passed a contrôle technique (similar to an MoT in the UK), in the past six months.

What does the buyer need?

When you buy a car, you must sign a certificat de cession (transfer certificate) along with the previous owner, who has to declare the sale on the ANTS website within 15 days. 

The seller should then receive a code de cession (transfer code) which they must send you because you will need this to register the vehicle in your name. There is a fee, which usually falls to the buyer to pay for transferring a vehicle registration – which varies depending on the region, type of car, and its CO2 emissions. 

The previous certificat d’immatriculation (registration certificate – aka carte grise) needs to be struck through, and completed with the date of the sale and the seller’s signature.

You will then need to register the car in your name, which can be done online. You have one month to do this, otherwise you risk a fine of up to €750. 

If you are purchasing the car through a dealer, this transfer of registration will be done at the time of the purchase. Be aware, a dealer may ask for your driving licence as part of the process, but – as long as you hold a valid licence, whether it is French or not, you will still be able to go through with your purchase.

In fact, you can ask any certified garage to apply for the carte grise on your behalf, which could save on time and hassle, even if you didn’t buy the car from them.

When applying for a carte grise you will need to submit proof that the vehicle has undergone a contrôle technique (vehicle safety check) within the previous six months if the car is at least four years old.

To register the vehicle, you need the following official documents:

  • Identification (passport or identity card)

  • Proof of residence (typically a utility bill or rental receipt, less than six months old).

  • A copy of the Certificat d’immatriculation/Carte Grise with the appropriate section filled in.

  • The contrôle technique (CT) certificate, if required.

Buying a car with a loan

If you have the funds to buy the vehicle outright, you’ll have no problems – simply hand over the cheque at the appropriate time. It may be harder, however, to access financing for your vehicle if you’re not permanently resident in France.

Driving your new vehicle

If you plan to drive your car away that day, you will also be asked for a copy of a valid insurance certificate for the vehicle – in France, the vehicle is insured rather than the driver. 

Most car insurance companies will provide a provisional certificate to allow you to drive your new purchase. You will then need to finalise details and provide them with a copy of the Carte Grise when it arrives.

Driving licence

If you live permanently in France, sooner or later you may need to swap your driving licence for a French one – but where you learned to drive in the first place could dictate whether you have to take a French driving test. We cover that in depth here – including what’s changed for Britons in France after Brexit.

You can buy some vehicles – known as voitures sans permis – and drive them on some French roads without having a driving licence. Anyone born after 1988 must, however, hold a Brevet de sécurité routière, which has a 15-year limit, and the vehicles are speed limited and can only travel on certain routes.

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